Chapter 2-Values and Attitudes: Corporate Bullying
Corporate bullying refers to a continuous pattern of ill-treatment in the workplace that results in either physical or emotion harm. Corporate bullying is loosely translated as the normal acts of bullying experienced at school and within the community but now practiced in and limited to the workplace (Seigne, 2010). Workplace bullying is done in various ways such as verbal, non-verbal, as well as physical harassment. It can also be in the form of numiliation abuse and psychological abuse (Seigne, 2010). Corporate bullying is however different from other forms of bullying in that unlike the typical school bully; bullies at the workplace normally operate within standard organizational and societal policies and rules. Most incidents of corporate bullying are normally perpetrated by an individual of a higher rank than the victim. However, there are incidences where bullying is practiced among peers and in very few cases it is practiced by subordinates.
Causes of Workplace Bullying
Researching on the causes of corporate bullying is a relatively simple subject with a highly complex answers and implications. A common misconception is that bullying is a solely determined by the perpetrator’s personality. Although the perpetrator’s personality exists as one of the significant factors influencing the bullying behavior, corporate bullying does not take place within a social vacuum. The practice rather takes place within the background of an organizational environment that potentially mitigates or aggravates the practice bullying. Moreover, bullying takes place in the background of a relationship where both the perpetrator and the victim contribute to the relationship. It is therefore plausible to conclude that the perpetrator-victim relationship is the most likely factor influencing the practice and experience of corporate bullying (Seigne, 2010). Therefore, for a comprehensive analysis of the various causes of corporate bullying, it is prudent to take into consideration the three main predictors to the phenomenon.
A number of the existing literature on corporate bullying tends to assume that the underpinning reason for an individual to act as a bully is his or her personality traits. There is substantial evidence indicating that perpetrators exhibit common negative personality traits such as narcissism, vengefulness, anger, and anxiety. Moreover, perpetrators tend to exhibit a high likelihood to have a history of being targets of bullying. Additionally personal traits associated with the perpetrators include low organizational based self-esteem and low core self-evaluation. Moreover, contextual factors play a significant role in perpetuating corporate bullying (Seigne, 2010). There are various environmental factors within the organization that serve to influence incidences of corporate bullying.
Studies indicate that there are employees who exhibit certain traits and characteristics that influence the likelihood of being bullied. Surveys conducted on victims of corporate bullying indicate that the highest percentage exhibit common traits such as anxiety, anger, higher levels of negative affectivity, and more disagreeable in comparison to those who are bullied. Additional research indicates that the victims exhibit high levels of cognitive ability and consciousness. The study findings imply that bullies at the workplace may often punish the over performing employees in the attempt to decrease their morale and output (Books LLC., 2010).
There are various behaviors that associated with the high risk individuals as the behaviors normally aggravate the perpetrators. In organizations where there are apparent differences between the subordinates and the supervisors, the differences may cause increased cases of relationship conflict and consequently higher incidents of abuse where the supervisor victimizes and bullies the subordinates who appear to be different (Dubin, 2007). More interestingly, such cases mainly involved supervisors bullying those subordinates whom they believed to be poor performers and thereby implying that the poor performing employees appear to be at higher risk of being bullied by their supervisors.
The approach of assessing the manner in which victim characteristics and behaviors promote bullying may per perceived as victim blaming. However, as earlier noted, workplace bullying normally takes place within the context of social relationships where both the perpetrator and the victim play a role to its practice. Moreover, understanding the various employee traits and behaviors that heighten their risk of being mistreated is critical to preventing the phenomenon. For instance, if the management understands that poor performance is a risk factor, they can put in place proper mechanisms such as training to improve the performance of their employees.
Environmental factors play a significant role in bullying dynamics within the workplace. Stressful work environments are more likely to be plagued by workplace bullying than the non-stressful ones. For instance, workplace that lack job security, high work loads, and low autonomy exhibit a high association with workplace bullying. Moreover, victims of corporate bullying are always subject to conflict in roles since they constantly disagree on specific duties. In addition, they have low autonomy over specific tasks that they can do. In addition, they are also subject to role ambiguity, which occurs due to their inability to determine the specific tasks they should do without consulting their bullies. Finally, they are subjects to high work constraints due to the lack of freedom in making decisions. Boredom is another environmental factor associated with bullying indicating that managers need to forge a balance such that employees are engaged enough to restrain them from perpetuating bullying but not too overworked that they become stressful and thus engage in bullying (Olsen, 2010).
The leadership styles employed by the management and supervisors contribute to the dynamics of aggression at the workplace. Surveys indicate that bullies at the workplace normally have less charismatic and abusive leaders while the victims normally have less supportive and unfair leaders. Finally, laissez-faire and tyrannical leadership styles is characterized with bullying and severe punishment levels (Dubin, 2007).
Cost of Corporate Bullying
Bullies at the organization create a significant level of liability for the employer. There are stringent laws on employee rights that enforce punitive fines and other measures on firms that mistreat their employers. Firstly, office bullies poison the work environment and contribute to higher cases of stress-related absenteeism, safety issues, poor health, and low productivity. Moreover, corporate bullying contributes to high employee turnover with the majority of the best performing employees leaving the organization. Finally, corporate bullies may result in the company having to pay high compensation fees to its employees who have been harassed by the bullies. Talented professionals are concerned with the type of firm they work for and therefore shy away from organizations where bullying is rampant.
The first approach to dealing with workplace bullying is designing clear policies that define the practice and consequences for the perpetrators. The policy should be integrated with an effective awareness program that aims to inform all employees that bullying incidences are wrong. The management should further ensure that all environmental factors supporting incidences of bullying are dealt with. For instance, poor performing employees should be motivated to improve on their performance, the employee workloads should be challenging but not overwhelming, and the leadership styles adopted by all persons in management capacities should not promote bullying. Moreover, there should be clear reporting systems where victims or witness can anonymously report cases of bullying.
Books LLC. (2010). Bullying: Defamation, Ad hominem, Gossip, Self-esteem, Insult, Jingoism, Sexual harassment, Workplace bullying, Cyber-bullying. Memphis, TN: Books LLC.
Dubin, N. (2007). Asperger syndrome and bullying: Strategies and solutions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Olsen, H. (2010). Workplace bullying and harassment: A toolbox for managers and supervisers. Auckland, N.Z: CCH New Zealand.
Seigne, E. (2010). Personality as a contributory factor to workplace bullying: Bullying and personality profile. Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Pub.